Sunday, February 27, 2011

Profession - July 9

The profession day has been tentatively set: July 9. Alleluia!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Profession - perhaps in August

At last night's formation session, the formation director for my Secular Franciscan Order fraternity noted that we had just one more lesson to go - we will do it in March.

Then he said that a final profession ceremony will likely be held for our area this summer, based on when the Franciscan priest who celebrates the profession Mass and services here is available (he has to come up from New York City). There are several candidates from the other local fraternity ready for profession, and it seems my fraternity thinks I'm ready. Generally, the professions here are held in August.

I am ... excited, reflective.

I have been working for this day for several years now with the SFOs, and I have a life-long attachment to Franciscan beliefs and spirituality. I have been searching for so long for a spiritual path, a way to grow, and, to be honest, a check on my more lazy, selfish, sinful side.

But at the same time I feel so unworthy. I don't mean that in the "Hey, look at me acting all humble" way.

I really do feel that my prayer life is not as strong as it should be.

That I too often give in to the temptations that nip at my soul.

That I'm prone to be non-Franciscan in the my words and thoughts. Harsh. Sarcastic. Judgmental.

And I fear that when people look at things I do and say they will remark in incredulity, "He's a Franciscan?"

Profession is not an end, of course. It doesn't mean one is a finished product. It's just one more step in the ongoing process of spiritual growth.

That won't end until I stand before God.

Pax et bonum

Friday, February 11, 2011


As part of formation, I read some material about Mary.

Francis was strongly devoted to Mary. He chose her as the Patroness and Advocate of the Franciscan Order.

To be honest, Mary was always a stumbling block for me. I accepted that she was the Mother of Jesus. I had no problem believing in the Virgin Birth, nor in honoring her for her willingness to sacrifice and to be the Blessed Mother of Jesus.

But I always had questions about the idea of her perpetual virginity. Why could she and Joseph not have had children after Jesus was born? What was wrong with accepting that Mary and Joseph could have sex?

I was also not a big fan of Marian apparitions. They struck me as like what I saw at Charismatic prayer meetings: Spiritually inspired, but often linked to a certain kind of emotionalism that was alien to my Scotch/Irish nature.

Then there were the doctrines of her Immaculate Conception - why could she not be just like us? - and the Assumption. I could accept that she was assumed into heaven; it had happened before. But to make it an infallible teaching? It didn't seem to me to be necessary. And a pig-headed part of me did not like being TOLD I had to believe something.

My doubts about Mary were among the reasons I strayed from the Church.

Even when I returned, I accepted the Marian teachings largely as a matter of faith: Good and holy people who are far wiser than I accepted these teachings, therefore I accepted them. I even grew to love the Rosary and some of the Marian prayers.

But a part of me never warmed up to the teachings.

It's still an area where I need to grow.

St. Francis, pray for me.

Mary, pray for me.

Paxc et bonum

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Formation Nearing End?

I am currently studying the materials for two of the final three sessions linked with Candidacy. We will be talking about those two sections next week.

After that, there's just one more session.

And then? I don't know. Will there be a profession ceremony for the two local Fraternities this summer? Will the Fraternity feel that I am indeed ready? Do I?

The Session 10 materials have got me thinking. They focus on "Public Profession."

The materials point out that profession is more than a matter of personal piety. It is a public commitment to witness the Franciscan way of life.

I certainly continually fall short when it comes to that way of life. I'm contentious, prone to sharp word and judgement, self-indulgent. My prayer life continues to be spotty, inconsistent.

Is this what a professed Franciscan should be like?

Would someone meeting me recognize me as a Franciscan?

Of course, even professing is not an end. It's part of the ongoing process of growth. A professed Franciscan must continue to study and pray and grow.

No resting on one's brown robe!

I renew my commitment to continue growing.

Daily prayer. Daily Scripture reading. Spiritual reading. Taking care that every word, every look, every action is guided by Christ's love.

Maybe I will eventually be worthy of being called a Franciscan.

Pax et bonum